In American Hardcore
(which opens at the Cedar Lee Theatre on Friday) a bunch of sweaty, shirtless white guys growl into microphones while a rapturous audience (made up of equally sweaty, shirtless white guys) hangs on every word. Welcome to the world of 1980s punk rock, which spanned shore to shore — including just about every major city in between.
"Kids in the suburbs needed an outlet," says Steven Blush, whose same-named 2001 book inspired the movie. "This music spoke to them. It spoke to me
. It really changed my life. My whole ethical code came from that scene: Do things for yourself, and do things because they feel right, not for the money."
American Hardcore is packed with new interviews with many of the scene's players -- including Black Flag's Henry Rollins, Minor Threat's Ian MacKaye, and members of bands you never knew existed. It's also packed with plenty of vintage, grainy live clips of DIY bands like Bad Brains, Circle Jerks, and the Descendents.
The movie pretty much spotlights hardcore's testosterone-fueled appeal to suburban, white males . . . and really no one else. "We weren't trying to be exclusive," says Blush, acknowledging the fact that women and minorities were rare on record, onstage, and in the audience. "But we never thought of this as a politically correct thing. Everyone was welcome." It just so happens that 95 percent of the people who showed up were white males. --Michael Gallucci